County's Proposed Budget Includes Added Funds for Mental Health Programs - NBC 7 San Diego

County's Proposed Budget Includes Added Funds for Mental Health Programs

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    County's Proposed Budget Includes Added Funds for Mental Health Programs

    San Diego County said it wants to add $15 million to behavioral health service projects. NBC 7’s Melissa Adan has more on the county’s budget. (Published Tuesday, May 7, 2019)

    On Tuesday San Diego County released its new recommended budget for the 2019-2020 fiscal year, which sits at more than $6 billion.

    The county’s proposal shows an emphasis on mental health services. This includes helping people and families struggling with substance abuse or experiencing homelessness.

    The budget will help support walk-in services for outpatients, fund 70 Psychiatric Emergency Response Teams and expand services for those with severe mental illness who rotate in and out of hospitals.

    Under this plan, San Diegans will continue to get access to Drug Medi-Cal systems and treatment for substance abuse, a program that is growing rapidly.

    The county wants to add $50 million to Behavioral Health Services projects, creating a budget of more than $700 million dedicated to helping people and families struggling with substance abuse or experiencing homelessness.

    “Mental health is a very serious need and has very limited resources,” Teresa Smith, CEO of Dream For Change said. “We see the value in investing back into our communities.”

    Smith and her team work with low income families across San Diego County to help them find a place to live or work, among other efforts.

    “Hopefully some of these extra dollars will be able to at least stop some of these downward spirals that I think a lot of families and individuals are experiencing,” Smith said.

    Smith already works closely with the County on several projects and said she struggles to get clients the mental help aid they need because resources just aren't readily available.

    “There isn’t just one call and you get a therapist, it is a 6-month work to try and find a therapist,” she explained.

    While the added funds seem promising, not everyone is on board.

    “We’ve seen people out here struggling on the streets, the same people for years and years and years,” said Michael McConnelly.

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